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Being able to function and participate in school will mean different things for different kids. So, it is best to look at your child and see what it is that they will need to work on in school, and then you can support the teacher to help your child work on those areas.



First lets lay out what some of the necessary basics are for functioning in school.

Bare Basic School Needs

  • Sleep.  It makes it really hard to learn at school when you are having trouble staying awake. Lack of sleep can manifest in similar ways to ADHD. You can read here about sleep, and read about some sensory sleep tips.
  • Sit in class.  Kids need to be able to sit and pay attention , and to have good positioning at the desk, table, wheelchair, etc.
    • some kids may need some seating help such as a foot stool, or a tray on their wheelchair. Desks can be raised or lowered to make the positioning optimal.
    • Some kids need to move frequently, so they need to have extra breaks, or some seating solutions that provide extra movement (such as a ball chair or wiggle seat).
    • You can help your student at home by giving them some opportunities for movement before and after school, such as walking or riding their bike to school, and going to the park after school before you start working on homework. Some kids thrive when they have a little bit of before school swinging in the back yard.
  • Move around the classroom. You must be able to move around the classroom in some way, whether it be by walking, by wheelchair, using a walker, etc.
    • You can have your student who is in a wheelchair or walker practice obstacle courses to help him get good at avoiding desks at school.
    • Play games around the house to find objects that are hidden. This can help with following directions and maneuvering around items and listening to identify what they need to find.
  • Use classroom tools. Students need to use crayons, pencil, scissors, tape, stapler, ruler, notebook, backpack, folders, agenda, etc.
    • Let kids scribble and play with pencils and crayons.
    • Don’t be afraid to let your child practice with scissors. Make sure you supervise and help when needed, but give them the chance to practice and learn how to use the scissors.
    • It can be very difficult to use tape, and can be so much fun as well. Use colored tape like washi tape to make designs on paper.
    • Do crafts to practice using the school tools.
  • Interact and socialize with other kids. It is important to take turns and play cooperatively and reciprocally.
    • go to the park and play with kids.
    • Let them direct the play, but be available for guidance
  • Build and practice skills. This could include doing classwork, homework, studying, discussing a lesson, practicing letters and numbers, etc.
    • Have a space to do work at home
    • Make practice fun through games.
    • Do memorization while doing a physical activity such as throwing or bouncing a ball.
  • Exercise and movement. It is important for everyone to move throughout the day to keep their bodies strong and healthy and their brains awake.
    • Go to the park after school to give a physical change before more school work
    • consider walking or riding bikes to school
    • ride bikes after school to give a break
    • have an exercise break every 20 to 30 minutes when doing homework.

This post is part of the Functional Skills for Kids series. You can read all of the functions on childhood HERE.  Read all of my monthly posts in this series HERE.

Looking for more information about Scissor Skills in childhood? Stop by to see what the other Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists in the Focus on Function series have written.

Fine Motor Skills Needed at School and Classroom Activities | Sugar Aunts

How Do Gross Motor Skills Affect Academics?  | Your Therapy Source

40 Helpful Strategies for Students with Sensory Challenges | Mama OT

Brain Breaks to Help Concentration in the Classroom | Your Kids OT

Things You can do at Home to Help Your Child in School | Therapy Fun Zone

Tips for Following Directions in the Classroom and Home  | Growing Hands-On Kids

Positioning In The Classroom  | Miss Jaime OT

10 Transition Strategies for Kids: Preventing Tantrums  | The Inspired Treehouse

The Case for More Play in the School Setting   | Kids Play Space





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Tonya is a pediatric Occupational Therapist, and loves creating things to work on skills and solve problems.

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4 replies
  1. Margaret@YourTherapySource
    [email protected] says:

    Great suggestions. We can’t stress sleep enough – kids need a lot more than you would think to function in school, especially teenagers. All the movement suggestions are awesome – easy to carry out which makes them the best!


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